A Transition Towards the Circular Economy in Slovenia

In Circular Economy: Recent Trends in Global Perspective
Book Chapter
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Our longing for incessant and rapid economic growth came at a cost of inefficient and wasteful use of resources and environmental pollution. The consequences are immense and far exceeding the planetary capacities to regenerate itself at such a fast pace. It became clear that a transition to sustainable societies cannot occur with our current linear economic model and that transition to a circular economy is no longer a choice, but a must.

Sustainability is one of Slovenia’s core values, which can be easily felt by those living or visiting the country, and for which Slovenia was proclaimed as the World’s most sustainable country in 2017. However, Slovenia started a strategic and systemic circular transformation in 2016, after the release of the Circular Economy Package, adopted by the European Commission in 2015. With that, the sound material cycle became embedded as one of the priorities in the Slovenian development strategy and in the Vision for Slovenia in 2050. Consequently, this called upon a development of a Framework Programme for Transition to a Green Economy in Slovenia in 2015 as well as the roadmap towards the circular economy in Slovenia in 2018, with a core goal to guide Slovenia towards a circular transition.

The circular transition is expanding fast in Slovenia. One of the first and most necessary steps taken was the establishment of recycling centres and separated waste collection system, which in only a few years not only helped to reduce the amount of landfilled waste but brought Slovenia to the European top in terms of the recycling rate. Moreover, due to the effective measures on waste reduction and recycling, Slovenian capital Ljubljana became the first zero waste capital in Europe and was entitled a Green capital of Europe in 2016.

This chapter provides a description of the most recent and fundamental legislative frameworks for the circular economy (CE) that pave the circular transition on Slovenian grounds. A roadmap towards the circular economy in Slovenia and other developed action plans and strategies that have a great potential to further enhance the transition will be introduced. Several CE-related indicators will be presented and applied for a Slovenian case. Data on generation and recycling of waste—all waste, municipal waste, and other waste fractions, for example, packaging, e-waste, biowaste, and more, will be presented. Additionally, data on Slovenian resource productivity, the use of secondary raw materials, eco-innovation, and environmental performance of Slovenian SME will be provided, as well as further insights into challenges, Slovenia’s priority areas, and opportunities for circularity. The chapter will be illustrated with concrete CE case studies in areas of manufacturing industry, agriculture and forestry, food systems, mobility, and education. The measures for circularity taken by two Slovenian frontrunner cities—Ljubljana and Maribor—will also be presented. The chapter will be concluded by a look into the future on the grounds of current ongoing projects, set strategies, action plans, and visions for circular transition in Slovenia.

Godina Kosir
Bavcon Kralj